Thursday, October 22, 2020

Youth Empowered - Tech Empower Team

This week’s post is a continuation of our series that is exploring the digital side of student-led youth ministry, where we are releasing a new chapter of Youth Empowered for free, right here on Focusing on Jesus! Tune in each week to read a new portion of the chapter as we explore Empower Teams through a digital lens.

Tech Empower Team
It’s no secret that our younger generations today have deemed images and video as their preferred method of online communication. Looking back, we can identify the inflection point of where this began as the combination of Instagram’s release in 2010 and the United States crossing the 50% saturation level of smartphones in 2012. Even though Facebook and Myspace had already been around for almost a decade by this point, it is in 2012 where our youth began to utilize image-driven social media more often as a part of their daily interaction with one another. With the later emergence of “Live” features for Facebook and Instagram, and apps like TikTok, we’ve only accelerated even further down the path of technology as being the primary vehicle that we use to communicate with one another.

Considering the preferred usage of image and video apps among our students today, it is here that a Tech Empower Team within a student-led youth ministry can truly find its home and thrive. Even though the evil one may try to use technology to advance his agenda, the good news is that the church is just as equipped to utilize the same technology and minister to our youth in a way that effectively shares the gospel. But in the context of a digitally-powered student-led youth ministry, how does a Tech Empower Team differ from other teams like a Social Media Empower Team or Creative Empower Team that may already be using technology?

To help us differentiate between the teams, the Tech Empower Team’s role can be understood as one that collaborates and helps to enhance the packaging of the gospel. While a student on the Social Media Empower Team can do an impromptu live feed while holding their phone in their hand, a Tech Empower Team could instead record a student’s video in a studio setting with proper acoustics and lighting. While a student on the Teaching Empower Team can preach a sermon and share a recording of it on the social media accounts, a Tech Empower Team could make it more appealing and engaging by taking a highlight from that same sermon and adding closed captioning, graphics, sounds, and music to it (See this Instagram video from Transformation Church as an example). Or rather than burdening your church staff with additional sermon slides, banners, graphics, and other visual needs that the youth ministry may have, what if a student team is equipped to use the same technology and then given the resources and training to complete the task at hand? To help increase the likelihood of social media content being shared among the youth, it is worthy to consider the pride that the youth ministry will take in its own work when it is given the freedom to create videos for students, by students, and also edited with student expertise.

But the importance of technology in today’s world doesn’t stop at podcasting, streaming, and video or image editing. After all, a teen emerging into adulthood needs to know a sizable amount of “digital smarts” if they are to stay safe in the real world. To help in communicating this knowledge, the tech experts on a Tech Empower Team are the very best candidates to address these matters. With digital dangers such as phishing, ransomware, social media use, pornography, spyware, identity theft, IP address tracking, working from home, time theft, privacy concerns, and more, we cannot guarantee that our students are receiving an education on these vital topics from their parents. For a topic that is lighter than the hazards of the internet, perhaps some students may even be able to share tips and strategies on how they can focus and perform better with their digital school and online classes (Such as covering up one’s own image with a post-it note on their screen so that they are not getting “Zoom-fatigue” by constantly looking at themselves).

Some youth ministries may decide to wait in launching a Tech Empower Team if they do not have the technological resources or a sufficient amount of tech-savvy students identified to assist. Just as we noted in Youth Empowered, it becomes important to appoint a confident Empower Team Leader at the helm and to have a well-trained list of students who are available to fill in and respond in a timely manner.  Nevertheless, whether it is learning how to be a good digital citizen in the modern world or polishing the content of the youth ministry to make it look better and sound better, the Tech Empower Team can quickly take your youth ministry to the next level in its ability to evangelize and engage the extremely visually attentive youth population of our digital world.


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